11. Empowering Your Voice: Techniques for Confident Performances

11. Empowering Your Voice: Techniques for Confident Performances

Feeling Like an Outsider? You’re Not Alone

I still vividly remember that time I was invited to a gathering of elite business leaders in New York City. As I took the elevator up to the highest floor of that midtown skyscraper, I was thrilled, eager, and felt honored to be a part of it. But as I started to mingle, something felt off.

No matter how much I put myself out there, introducing myself and initiating conversations, I just couldn’t seem to gel with the crowd. I was surrounded by people who already seemed to have a connection and comfort in their existing cliques, and there I was, a stranger hovering on the edges of closed conversations. Needless to say, what was meant to be an exciting evening of networking and making new connections ended up leaving me feeling awkward, a little bruised, and stirring with self-doubt.

Does this sound familiar? Let’s be honest, who doesn’t crave a bit of validation now and then – in the form of a quick welcome or small gesture of inclusion? No one enjoys feeling overlooked, invisible, or inadequate. But this experience is more common than you think, especially for people from underrepresented groups. It’s a situation I’ve encountered quite a few times myself.

That’s exactly why it’s important that our confidence and well-being aren’t at the mercy of all the external factors around us – we need to actively invest in our own sense of belonging. So, let’s take charge of our own experience and explore some techniques to help you feel more comfortable in your skin, no matter where you are.

Tuning Your Inner Radio

Imagine your inner voice as a radio. Sometimes you have it tuned to a station that lifts you up, and other times it can get stuck in a loop of negative tracks. Whichever station you listen to and engage with most will influence the quality of your life.

So, tune your radio carefully. When your mind begins to drift into unhelpful territory – for example, with a thought like “Why did I ever think I’d belong here?” or “These people seem way more senior/higher status than me” – purposefully switch the channel to something more positive. You can do this by creating mantras or affirmations that resonate with you. These can be simple, empowering statements that you repeat to yourself, especially during challenging times.

One of my favorites when I’m feeling like an outsider is, “I belong in this boardroom/event/interview.” Remember, the channel you tune into can significantly influence your resilience when external factors don’t go your way.

Claiming Your Space

When we worry we don’t belong, it’s easy to shrink our bodies and play small. But remember, you have every right to be where you are, so don’t shy away from taking up space. The next time you’re in conversation, try this: don’t pin your arms rigidly to your ribcage – instead, let your hands and arms flow naturally with gesturing. And when you stand, stand tall. To do this, I like to pretend I’m aiming for my head to brush the ceiling.

Avoid leaning or shrinking into the corner. Instead, plant your feet firmly, a little more than shoulder-width distance apart, as if you’re saying, “Here I am, confident and ready.” This subtle change in your stance can send a powerful message to both your audience and your own psyche – you’re not just present, you’re claiming your space, you’re confident, and you’re engaged.

Creating Your Own Circle

When you find yourself in a setting where forming connections feels challenging due to existing cliques or a general sense of exclusion, consider taking a different approach: create your own circle. If direct engagement is met with cold shoulders, look for others who might be feeling the same way.

Often, there are individuals in the room who are on their own and also seeking connection, but are hesitant to make the first move. By initiating a conversation with them, you not only build up your own confidence, but you open the door to new connections and create a more inclusive, welcoming atmosphere.

Empowering Your Voice

Navigating situations where we feel like we’re on the fringes, trying to peer into a world where we seemingly don’t fit, is a challenge many of us face at some point. But through the practice of these tips, we can start to shift our perspective. They help us understand that while external validation is nice, our true sense of worth and belonging reverberates from within. It’s about finding peace in our own presence and recognizing our value, independent of others’ recognition.

And when you do find yourself comfortably in the in-crowd, look around – is there someone on the edges experiencing what you once did? Extend a hand, a smile, a conversation. Sometimes a small gesture can make a big difference in making others feel included and valued.

Remember, confidence and presence are key to making an impact as a performer, and these techniques can help you cultivate both. So, the next time you find yourself in a new or challenging environment, tune in to your inner radio, claim your space, and create your own circle. Your powerful voice deserves to be heard.

If you’re looking for more guidance on boosting your confidence and presence, I highly recommend checking out the Musical Theater Center. Their resources and workshops are designed to empower performers just like you. Go ahead and give them a visit – I’m sure you’ll find the support and tools you need to shine on that stage.

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